Transparency: Changes urged on ‘fail-one fail-all’ rule for in-spec bonuses

A review of the beef grid system would take time to do thoroughly – but changes can be made “in the interim” that would go some way towards achieving transparency, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

ICMSA Livestock Committee chairman Des Morrison pointed to the “blatant unfairness” of the current system around the payment “in-spec” bonuses.

‘Blatantly unfair’

This, he said, is a perfect example of a situation where a small change could be made to be “more fair and give the farmer more information about how his final price had been arrived at”.

Expanding on this, he said: “So many farmers have contacted me to criticise the situation around the four ‘in-spec’ criteria whereby if an animal fails under any one of the four then the whole bonus goes.

That’s blatantly unfair because that should be proportionate – if I fail one of the four ‘in-spec’ criteria then my bonus should be reduced by 25%; if I fail two then it should be reduced by 50%; and so on.

The chairman said that, in the ICMSA’s view, the final ‘kill statement’ should set out which of the ‘in-spec’ criteria the animal is deemed to have failed and then set out the amount deducted.

This, he added, should be proportionate and not the whole amount.

Transparency

“It’s very notable that all levies – including statutory – are itemised at the bottom of the statements but the information around the payment of ‘in-spec’ bonuses is very sketchy and varies from factory to factory – with some omitting it completely,” he claimed.

ICMSA doesn’t understand this reluctance to give all the information on an itemised and transparent basis; it’s this reluctance to set out how the price has been arrived at that is at the heart of the distrust that is crippling the sector.

“I’ve never heard a farmer complain that he got too much information from the factory but there are too many to count who’ve complained that they never receive an explanation about the price their animals were killed out at,” Morrison concluded.

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